Skip to main content

6 of John Frusciante’s wildest solos on the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album

John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers
(Image credit: Frank Mullen/WireImage)

Unlimited Love, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ first album with John Frusciante since 2006’s Stadium Arcadium, is out today, and it’s a tour de force of the influential guitarist’s style.

The record has been eagerly anticipated since his return at the tail end of 2019, and fans’ patience has been rewarded with a wealth of standout Frusciante-isms across its 17 tracks.

There’s tight funk (Aquatic Mouth Dance), out-and-out punk (These Are the Ways) and fingerpicked acoustic workouts (Tangelo), showcasing Frusciante’s wide-reaching songwriting and rhythmic nous.

But it’s the solos that are going to grab guitarists’ attentions first – we’ve all heard Black Summer, so here, we’re shining a light on Frusciante’s finest leads on the new album’s deeper cuts, complete with some extra insight from our forthcoming conversation with the man himself…

1. The Great Apes (2:56)

Perhaps the album’s most frenetic, amps-set-to-explode guitar playing takes place on this moody rocker, which finds Frusciante at his most feral.

With tremolo picking straight out of the gate followed by a series of searing alternate-picked salvos, it’s a reminder that, when the song calls for it, John can still shred – just check out that last 15 seconds.

2. The Heavy Wing (4:00)

Frusciante went big on guitar feedback for this album, which meant cranking his Marshalls and overdubbing his solos after laying down the main rhythm tracks in the room with the rest of the Chili Peppers.

The impact of that decision is most heavily felt on The Heavy Wing, which features the guitarist’s wildest feedback moments ever committed to record. You can hear his lyrical phrases are fit to burst during any moments of sustain, but when that squeal screams out of the speakers, you know he’s bottled once-in-a-lifetime studio magic.

3. Let ’Em Cry (2:35)

This laid-back groover has a whiff of Sly & The Family Stone’s If You Want Me to Stay about it, with a particularly restrained rhythm performance from Frusciante leaving space for Flea’s wandering bassline.

But the guitarist is biding his time for that solo: the opening pentatonic run is a scorcher, and it’s all in the tight syncopated phrasing. It’s nice to hear the ol’ Ibanez WH10 getting a workout, too.

4. Here Ever After (2:53)

Anyone who’s been missing the kind of lyrical solos Frusciante was busting out on Californication will dig the outro licks on Unlimited Love’s second track.

John’s melodic phrases build with each repetition, adding Hendrixian trills and slides, and varying up the double-tracked lines.

5. It’s Only Natural (2:47)

One of two ballads with ambient guitar learnings (the other being Not the One), It’s Only Natural utilizes reverse reverb to great effect, especially on its solo.

With a warm tone courtesy of a newfound affinity for the neck pickup, Frusciante really digs into the atmosphere, with wide held and released bends and delicate pentatonic runs that accentuate the spacious effect.

6. White Braids & Pillow Chair (2:27)

The album’s biggest stylistic left-turn, White Braids & Pillow Chair opens with a shapeshifting chord progression inspired by Genesis keyboard wizard Tony Banks, before it builds to a raucous surf-meets-rockabilly outro.

While it’s arguably a repeated lead lick rather than an out-and-out solo, Frusciante’s masterful whammy-bar warbles add so much character to one of Unlimited Love’s most affecting songs.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as the best part of 20 years performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.